Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. FTSE 100 rises 0.6% to 6,261 points
  2. Primark owner ABF is biggest faller on FTSE 100, down 2.9%
  3. Archie Norman to help revive Homebase
  4. IMF warns US over high poverty levels

Live Reporting

By Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Over and out

    That's all we have time for today on Business Live - thanks for reading. We're back at 06:00 tomorrow - EU referendum day lest anyone could forget - so do join us then.

  2. Brexit: A look back at the four month campaign

    BBC World Business Report editor, Martin Webber, has been looking at how the arguments on both sides of the debate have been presented over the past four months of campaigning.

    Video content

    Video caption: Martin Webber reviews the arguments made on both sides of Britain's EU referendum debate.
  3. Stairway to Heaven jury goes out

    Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin
    Image caption: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin

    The jury in the copyright trial involving Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, which the group is accused of stealing from a long-defunct Los Angeles rock band, has begun its deliberations.

    Zeppelin songwriters Robert Plant and Jimmy Page deny that they stole part of a little-known instrumental by 1960s group Spirit and used it as the basis for their multimillion-selling signature song. 

    Witnesses called by the plaintiffs admit there are substantial similarities between key parts of the two songs, but those for the defence testified that the chord pattern used in the introduction to Stairway is so common that copyright does not apply. 

    David Woirhaye of Rhino Entertainment, which distributes the Led Zeppelin catalogue, testified the song had made $3.4m during the five-year period at issue in the trial in Los Angeles. 

    Read more about the case here.

  4. 'A whole lot of nothing'

    Wall Street fell slightly on Wednesday, with the Dow shedding about 0.2%, while both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down less than 0.1%. 

    "Today is a whole lot of nothing," said Art Hogan at Wunderlich Securities in New York. "We are clawing back some of the losses from last week and are in a bit of a holding pattern ahead of tomorrow's vote."

    It wasn't a great day for Tesla Motors, which closed 10.4% lower in the wake of Elon Musk's proposal to buy his other company, the solar installation firm SolarCity for $2.8bn. Its shares added 4.1%.

  5. Ex-Credit Suisse banker pleads guilty

    A former Credit Suisse banker has pleaded guilty in US District Court in Virginia to charges of helping US taxpayers evade income tax, the Justice Department said. 

    Michele Bergantino, 48, a citizen of Italy and resident of Switzerland, admitted that from 2002 to 2009, while working for Credit Suisse in Switzerland, he participated in a wide-ranging conspiracy to aid US taxpayers in concealing assets and income in secret Swiss bank accounts, the department said. 

  6. Tensions mount

    Back to more serious matters for a moment. This is the front page of tomorrow's Financial Times in the UK as voters prepare to vote in the referendum on the country's EU membership.

    View more on twitter
  7. Anyone for Mac N' Cheetos?

    Right or wrong? You decide - though I'm guessing these "delights" (or heart attacks on a plate) won't be available at any Burger King in the UK. Mind you, I wouldn't mind a taste test, so you don't have to... 

    View more on twitter
  8. Risk vs reward

    Tesla

    As well as Jim Chanos, other analysts have also poured cold water on Elon Musk's plan to merge Tesla and SolarCity. 

    "Tesla's double-down on solar energy raises important questions on strategy, capital adequacy and governance. Is the increased risk worth the potential reward?" ask Morgan Stanley analysts in a note.

    Mr Musk (pictured) owns about 20% of both companies and will not participate in a shareholder vote on the proposal later this year. 

  9. Moody's shipping gloom

    Container ship

    Still on the subject of shipping, credit rating agency Moody's warns that profits for the big shipping companies will be "much worse" than it previously thought. 

    It's predicting a drop in profits of between 7% to 10% across the industry, which includes companies like Maersk and Stena.

    Moody's singled out low freight rates caused by a slowdown in demand from China as a major cause of the slide.

  10. Bidders line up for RBS shipping business

    Piraeus port in Athens

    Bet you didn't know that RBS has a Greek ship finance business. Well, it does, but it doesn't want it anymore. According to people in the know, the bank has had bids for the business, but a rise in bad debts means it may no longer be worth $3bn or so. 

    Credit Suisse and China Merchants are among the interested parties, sources told Reuters. 

    "RBS has held preliminary discussions with a number of interested parties," one source said. "The big difference here is they are not selling a portfolio of loans but a business, with staff in it able to do the debt collection stuff." 

    RBS and Credit Suisse declined to comment.  

  11. Are we all irrational?

    BBC World Service

    Behavioural economist and bit-part movie star Richard Thaler talks to Ed Butler on BBC World Services Business Daily about market bubbles and co-starring with Selena Gomez in the Big Short.

    Video content

    Video caption: Behavioural economist and movie star Richard Thaler on market bubbles and Selena Gomez
  12. Irrational exuberance?

    Given that the FTSE 100 has added some 350 points in the past three days of trading, Rebecca O'Keeffe at online broker Interactive Investor questions whether investors are being just a touch overconfident ahead of tomorrow's referendum.

    Quote Message: Markets are now pricing in virtually no risk of an exit vote, which begs the question as to whether the euphoria is being overdone and how much upside still exists for investors -- or whether this is irrational exuberance and investors are ignoring the risks?"
  13. Rise of the robots

    robot

    The number of industrial robots sold last year reached a new high of 248,000 units - 12% more than 2014 - as the global automation boom continues, according to the International Federation of Robotics.

    Asia remains the biggest market for industrial robots, with a 16% rise in the number of units sold to 156,000. China bought 68,000 - more than the whole of Europe.

    The IFR expects some 2.3 million units to be deployed on factory floors by 2018 - more than twice the total for 2009.

  14. Wall Street erases gains

    New York has erased most of its earlier gains at lunchtime, with the Dow now in negative territory and the S&P 500 just 0.1% higher. It's a similar story for the Nasdaq as well.

    "Equity indices are mixed ... having lost some of yesterday's bullish momentum," said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said, adding that a "pause" was to be expected. 

  15. SolarCity deal slammed

    Elon Musk
    Image caption: Telsa founder Elon Musk

    Jim Chanos, the prominent US investment manager, has had a pop at the proposed Tesla/SolarCity deal, describing it as a "shameful example of corporate governance at its worst".

    He said SolarCity is a company in trouble. "It is burning hundreds of millions in cash every quarter, a burden that now Tesla shareholders will have to bear, at a total cost of over $8 billion," Chanos tells CNBC

    "And if you don't want to believe me, consider this: the combined market drop in the value of both companies is more than the equity value of the deal itself, which means that Tesla shareholders think SolarCity shares are essentially worthless," Chanos said. "Finally, it is hard for me to believe that this deal was not being contemplated when Tesla, and Mr [Elon] Musk himself, sold shares just a few weeks ago."

  16. Asda responds to ruling

    Asda trolleys

    Further to the post earlier about the Asda equal pay ruling from the Court of Appeal, a spokesperson for the supermarket says:

    "The ruling from the Court of Appeal relates solely to the way the case will proceed in the courts - it has nothing to do with the merits of the case itself. Whilst we respect the Court's decision, we continue to strongly dispute the claims being made against us in the employment tribunal. This is a legal case about different rates of pay for different jobs. We believe that jobs in question are very different in terms of their demands, and we strongly dispute the claims being made. 

    "At Asda people doing the same job are paid the same. Men and women doing the same job in our retail stores are paid the same. Men and women doing the same job in our distribution and logistics centre are paid the same. Pay rates in stores and depots differ for legitimate reasons, including the different market rates for different jobs."  

  17. Unilever vows 'less sexist' advertising

    Unilever ad

    Adverts showing women unable to resist the lure of chocolate, slaving in the kitchen and going giggly at the sight of a man will be no more if consumer goods giant Unilever has its way.

    The consumer goods giant, which owns more than 400 brands from Ben & Jerry's ice-cream to Dove soap, has pledged to remove sexist stereotypes from its own ads and called on rivals to follow suit.

    Some 40% of women did not identify with their portrayal in adverts, Unilever said.

    Read more here.

  18. Yellen on Brexit watch

    Janet Yellen

    US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen says she has not scheduled special meetings for Friday or Saturday following the UK's EU referendum vote. 

    "Brexit is a risk that we are monitoring. We will be watching closely to see what the vote is and what possible repercussions it might have," she said in testimony to Congress in Washington DC today.